Around 75 participating students came from across Utah to collaborate in the Third Annual Honors Orchestra performance at Weber State University. Students were nominated by their conductors and then auditioned with a medley piece from “The Phantom of the Opera” for seat positioning.

The Honor Orchestra, held this year on Feb. 11, is organized by Stephanie Strait, who began organizing the event three years ago. “There has been an honor band for 30 years but nothing for strings. I went from honor band to honor orchestra,” said Strait, who had previously been involved with the band at Weber State.

Dr. Francisco de Galvez, director of orchestral studies at Weber State, conducted the orchestra as they performed a variety of pieces.

Strait said that she and Dr. de Galvez look for “really challenging, cool pieces” that are classical, fun and educational.

“The Phantom of the Opera” headlined as event piece as it was performed by the Ogden Youth Symphony, who were also invited to participate as part of the concert.

Besides the audition piece, the orchestra students were unaware of the music that they would be playing for the concert. The group did not practice together until the morning of the concert. Almost everything was based on sight-reading.

Audience member Aubreigh McGregor, a senior from Manti High School, said the performance was beautiful.

“I think it’s so amazing how they can bring so many people from so many different schools, and it’s so unified in just two days,” she said. “I also loved how all the different instruments do different things, but they come together.”

Sarah Francis, the first chair violinist for the first half of the concert, is a sophomore at Ogden High.

Francis fell in love with music when her cousin and her neighbor allowed her to play their instruments.

“I fell in love with the sound,” said Francis. “Music is everything to me. I plan on continuing music for the rest of my life.”

A few Weber State students also performed as part of the show, filling in for missing chairs.

Sean Topham played last year in the honor orchestra and is now a freshman cello player at Weber State. For this concert, Topham played percussion.

He said, “It was really fun to see it all come together. I was able to listen more. You don’t quite hear everything that happens when you perform in the middle of the ensemble.”

The concert also served as a recruiting event for WSU’s orchestra, providing high schoolers with the opportunity to experience a college concert on the stage of the Austad Auditorium.

“It’s a feather in their cap to have this kind of college experience,” said Lisa Wood, who’s daughter is a flute player at Dunway High School and a soloist in this year’s honor band.

The honor band is a way to prepare future Wildcats for performing on the Weber stage.

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